ILOCOS SUR: Environment groups expressed opposition to the planned extraction of limestone and the establishment of a cement plant in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, saying it is “destructive” and will affect watershed areas.
Sherwin de Vera, Regional Coordinator of Vigan City-based Defend Ilocos, which is also called Ilocos Network for the Environment, said they will take appropriate action against the proposed plant and extraction.
Defend Ilocos was reacting to a draft resolution which was the subject of a privilege speech by Board Member Efren Rafanan Sr. of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The resolution is requesting the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) to conduct a study on the possibility of establishing a cement factory, as well as the extraction of limestone boulders in Quirino, particularly on the mountainside stretching from the Skyline area to Barangay Cayos in Quirino.
De Vera said the mountain area Rafanan identified for the plant has a thick forest and lush vegetation.
“It serves as an important watershed to many streams and rivers, including the mighty Abra River and the Buaya River that feeds the Salcedo-Santa Lucia-Candon Irrigation System,” De Vera added.
In a statement, Defend Ilocos also condemned people in government for serving as mouthpieces for corporations that have vested interests in limestone mines.
“[These politicians’] promotion of limestone extraction shows [their]utter disregard for people’s sentiment against mining and its ill impact on the environment,” De Vera said.
Defend Ilocos has expressed dismay over how fast people in the provincial board changed their minds, saying that years ago they were among those who opposed mining along the coastline and mountains of Ilocos Sur.
The group reiterated its challenge to the Ilocos Sur provincial board to pass a blanket ban or at least a 50-year moratorium on mining in the province.
Citing Board Member Christopher Baterina in his resolution on the moratorium, De Vera added, “we urge Rafanan to assist with its [resolution]finalization and eventual passage.”
Rafanan, in a statement on Facebook, said he saw along the road from San Emillo town to Quirino town white clay or limestone which he thought could be used for making cement.
“Hence in good faith, I requested the DENR to conduct a study. It never came to mind that it would be destructive because it had to undergo due process. And we really want the people to be part of the process because we are not here to deceive people in the guise of having a good project but which is actually destructive,” Rafanan added.